Pregnancy in early and late adolescence.
- PubMed: 12265088
The degree to which adolescent pregnancy is viewed as a social problem varies with the age of the adolescent: the younger the adolescent, the greater the perceived risks and costs. The young adolescent has been found to be at greater risk medically; both the young adolescent and her infant are subject more frequently to prenatal and postpartum complications. A sample of 130 pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers was surveyed to determine the factors that discriminate between girls who become pregnant in early years versus late adolescence. The younger group had begun dating and particularly steady dating at a significantly earlier age than the older group. The age discrepancy between the groups is even greater for the average age at which subjects began steady dating, that is, dating 1 boyfriend exclusively. While ages at which the adolescent began dating and particularly steady dating were found to be significantly related to early pregnancy, this vulnerability was increased by the subjects' lack of knowledge and use of birth control. Subjects in both groups reported that prior to pregnancy they desired quite frequently to leave their parents' home and be on their own. Early pregnancy appeared instead to have increased the adolescents' dependence upon her parents, especially the mother. The findings point to a need for instruction in reproduction and birth control to begin at an earlier age. Opportunity is needed for guided discussion among peers about their feelings regarding the costs and benefits of relationships and how one might deal with potential problems.